Siem Reap is one of the most famous destinations, which makes it extremely touristic. As for me, crowded or extremely touristic places are not my piece of cake.
However, I could not miss out the former capital of the powerful Angkor Kingdom. UNESCO heritage place, this city is the Mecca of Cambodian culture and history.
Even though there are plenty of temples, ruins and historical points, the majority of the tourists opt for checking in few places. One of the most famous and crowded destination is Angkor Wat temple which indeed is breathtaking. Angkor Thom and Ba Yon Temple located in Angkor Park are both famous and a must see.
The remote sites to check in are: Prasat Banteay Srei (32 km from Siem Reap), Beng Mealea (70 km from the town) and Rolous Group (13 km away).
How long do I need in Siem Reap?
I have been exploring Siem Reap for three days but it was an intense trip. I was so ambitious not to miss out even one single ruin! At the end of the day, it was both rewarding and tiring.
The first day was a little bit chaotic as I rented a bicycle nearby my accommodation and I challenged myself to ride it until Angkor Wat temple. I must say it was not one of my best choices.
It was extremely hot and hard to pedal. Also, it took too much time. This is why the first day I only got to visit the surroundings of Angkor Wat. After I parked my bicycle I went to take pictures in front of Angkor Wat.
I must admit that I was a little bit disappointed by it because it looked slightly different from the pictures. The fact that it was too crowded it did not help it either. Plus, I had to get out of there before the sunset as I had to ride a long road until the downtown. That is why I decided that renting a motorcycle would be the best option to get around faster and easier.
Is it hard to drive on Siem Reap roads?
Is it dangerous to venture yourself into an unknown land driving a motorcycle? Not at all.
What do I need?
Just one passport, cash and to check out the condition of the motorcycle. By the way, in South-East Asia the most common transport is the motorcycle.
You can find a rental place at any corner. Plus, due to the fact that there are not as many cars as in other countries, it makes it faster to drive the motorcycle even though you do not have much experience.
The rental price ranges between 15~20 dollars which is expensive for Cambodia but it is worth it. Why? Because it’s way faster than the bicycle and Tuk Tuk (which is slower and pricier if you want to visit as many places as possible).
You shouldn’t worry about the gasoline. Not only it is so affordable but if you run out of it in the middle of nowhere you might be surprised to find a vendor! Right on the edge of the street, selling 2 liters of gasoline in old juice plastic bottles. How amazing is that?
Off the beaten track
The best advice I can give you is to buy a sim card as GPS is very important to make the motorcycle adventure successful. It should be around 7 dollars.
You can use it for one week with unlimited internet and the connection is decent. And this time in Cambodia Google Maps did not trick me as it happened in Japan (that’s for another story :)).
As soon as I passed Angkor Wat, I started to see less and less tuk-tuks loaded with tourists. I drove through the forest and extremely dusty roads. It was messy but amazing. I have never felt so free and happy!
Clean air, passing through small countryside villages full of kids playing around, locals carrying on their lives… And the most important thing, letting my mind to teleport myself in the past times, when on those lands another history was made, much more grandiose than nowadays.
Banteay Srei means Citadel of Women or Citadel of Beauty, my favorite temple. What it makes it really special is the unusual sandstone color. It takes one hour by motorcycle to get there.
PS: For the foodies out there, there is no worry, from time to time you can find a food street vendor who not only sells good traditional food but also cheap fruit juices. Also, there are some restaurants.
LATER EDIT: After reading and debating what are the differences between scooters, motorbikes, and motorcycles, I realized it might have been a motorbike. So fast though. Some languages don’t have words for the different types, hence the confusion.